HC Deb 27 October 2003 vol 412 cc119-20WS
Mr. Oaten

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many offences were committed in which(a) a firearm and (b) a replica firearm was used in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement; [133830]

(2) how many crimes involving firearms were recorded in each police force area in 2002–03. [133968]

Caroline Flint

Final figures for firearms offences for 2002–03 will be published in January. While a provisional overall total for England and Wales for recorded crimes involving firearms other than air weapons was published on 16 October, the individual data are still subject to further checking, and so further details are not yet available.

The numbers of recorded crimes involving firearms in England and Wales over the last 10 years are as follows:

Firearms excluding air weapons Air weapons
1992 7,243 6,098
1993 7,730 6,337
1994 6,002 7,165
1995 5,866 7,568
1996 6,063 7,813
1997 4,904 7,506
1997–98 4,903 7,902
1998–99 5,209 8,665
1999–2000 6,843 10,103
2000–01 7,470 10,227
2001–02 9,974 12,340

It should he noted that there was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998, which tended to increase the number of crimes recorded. Also, some police forces implemented the principles of the National Crime Recording Standard in advance of its national implementation on 1 April 2002, and this will also have tended to increase the number of crimes recorded.

Mr. Rosindell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the level of gun crime is in the United Kingdom. [133996]

Caroline Flint

Provisional figures released on 16 October show that the total number of firearms offences in England and Wales in 2002–03 (excluding those involving air weapons) was around 10,250. This represents a 3 per cent. increase from 2001–02. The increase in the preceding year was 35 per cent. In 2002–03 the number of fatal injuries from firearms went down to 80, from 95 in 2001–02.

Mr. Rosindell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on gun crime in the United Kingdom. [133997]

Caroline Flint

Although the incidence of firearms offences is low compared to recorded crime as a whole, too many people are still being killed and injured by firearms. This is unacceptable.

We are taking forward a programme to tackle gun crime on a number of fronts. This includes: tackling the links to drug supply and crime through initiatives such as the Criminal Justice Interventions Programme and the National Crack Plan; reducing the supply and availability of firearms; effective police operations to drive down firearm offences; tough laws and effective enforcement; engaging the worst affected communities to address the underlying gun culture.

The firearms amnesty during April this year resulted in 44,000 guns and over a million rounds of ammunition being handed in. This included 5,700 handguns, the weapons most often used in gun crime, and 795 other prohibited weapons.

The Criminal Justice Bill includes proposals for a five-year minimum sentence for anybody convicted of illegally possessing, selling or manufacturing prohibited firearms.

This will send a clear message that we will not tolerate the illegal proliferation of guns within our society.

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